Between the 19th and 20th of December 2017 the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) took place in Bonn, Germany. The GLF is the world’s largest science-led platform aiming in addressing landscape-issues through dialogue by putting communities first. During this year’s forum, more than 1,000 participants joined, and between them, thirteen students of the Tropical Forestry Masters joined and listened to renowned speakers of the World Bank, UNDP, IUFRO, WWF, German Federal Ministry of Environment, former presidents, indigenous people, scientists, youth representatives and other international NGOs.
Throughout the forum each of the students was able to attend multiple lucrative side events either by just listening or being involved as volunteers. The most remarkable events are highlighted as follows.
The side event “AFR100: From pledges to implementation” was hosted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the World Resources Institute, World Bank and New Partnership for Africa’s Development. During the event, the important role of private sector for green growth development was highlighted. It is known that large scale enterprises can help provide Small and Midsize Enterprises with financial security. However, to fully achieve green growth, multiple sectors have to collaborate and incentives need to be given by governments, bringing all relevant stakeholders on board, including the public, the private sector and the government.
Another topic presented by CIFOR on “Enhancing tenure security and gender equality in the context of forest landscape restoration” in Burkina Faso highlighted the effects of landscape restoration on social capital. By developing new plantations not only biodiversity is at risk but also the access of communities and stakeholders to their land resources. In a study conducted by CIFOR, they found out that through new plantation establishments, pastoralist was more likely to face constraints to their land while women were likely to spend more hours on plantation with reduced share of income. Hence, the decision to change ecosystem for cash crops, must be planned carefully with the communities and in consideration of the whole system before being implemented.
The discussion forum “Policies on Conservation and land use and development” hosted by the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development (IPMG SDGs) with the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the International Land Coalition (ILC) emphasized the need to establish linkages between conservation, land rights and development as well as the importance of the whole indigenous people to nature. Daniel Ole Sapit, an indigenous Maasai leader from Kenya highlighted: “The whole of IP, historically built, is an important tool for ensuring landscape restoration, climate change adaptation and conservation. The integration of concerns of indigenous people in legal frameworks is an opportunity, and the countries that don’t recognize this is neglecting essential human capital for development”.
In the discussion forum “Forest Smart Solutions” hosted by the World Bank and PROFOR the focus was given to disaster risk management. It has been noticed that traditional approaches for risk and disaster management are not able anymore to cope with the new scenario shaped by climate change. Thus, forests appear as an innovative and smart solution through the new concept called “Forest smart approach”, an innovative development approach that recognizes the whole of forests for securing the stability of many other sectors such as water, agriculture, and energy. The new understanding is that climate change resilience and risk management are interlinked by forest smart approaches.
In the “Indicators and scalability of successful land restoration initiatives at the watershed scale” talks hosted by CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) with International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the word “indicators” was the most interesting discussed topic. It has been found quite often in the rural areas that many international projects and development assistance, particularly on land and ecosystem restoration initiatives, are indicators-fixed projects. Traditional and local knowledges for example how humans throughout the history interact with the nature are often neglected. This resulting a short-term involvement and pragmatism amongst local communities. Consequently, the involvement of local communities is solely for money or incentives they can earn from the projects. Experienced in Indonesia, many locals and indigenous communities have been displaced to make space for wildlife supported by international conservationist NGOs. This scheme is assuming humans are not part of the environment and therefore clearing the forest from indigenous communities that have been living there for hundreds of years is a must. This fact has risen the needs to empower traditional knowledge and referring them to set their own indicators so that they are not merely a subordinate of global initiatives.
The last important topic addressed focused on landscape restoration. Even though this is not a new discussion there is a sense that more successful on ground experiences are needed to put in practice the conceptual frameworks and start learning by doing. Examples on this approach were seen from all over Brazil, for example, with REDD+ early movers to agroforestry systems in Africa led by ICRAF. Although it was stated that some technical challenges still need to be surmounted (e.g. seeds availability) to reach landscape restoration, it became also evident that the strongest need lays upon the necessity to tide the bridge between stakeholders, especially from the private sector, whose participation could allow finance to reach on ground initiatives. Also, entrepreneurs’ participation on landscape restoration was encouraged. To receive financial support however a variety of issues has to be addressed. For instance, what are the requirements for entrepreneurs to access financial support? Or, most importantly, who bares the risks of such investments, the government, the entrepreneur or the investors? How could the trade-offs be reached?
In the context of the above paragraph, the “Governance for land degradation neutrality and landscape restoration” discussion forum, Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) mentioned that “land use planning is about doing the right thing in the right place at the right scale”. We need collective actions and measurable targets. Every one of us from different places and backgrounds can contribute to land restoration and to achieve SDG 15. Three new “R” were mentioned: “Right” meaning land tenure and resources allowing to plan the future for new generations and improve livelihood. However, land grabbing appears as an institutional barrier and several efforts to close the gap for gender inequality and increase land productivity are being implemented. “Reward” in the sense of land restoration for food security were several mechanisms are in development as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), creation and strengthening of value chain. But it is not only about reduce emissions, it is about the right balance; all efforts are necessary to shift the market into more sustainable production. Finally, “Responsibility” in the short and long term, thinking and planning for the future. We all need to work together and as the Agenda 2030 says “No one must be left behind”.
To wrap up, the challenges faced by the international communities are overwhelming; climate change, loss of natural resources, biodiversity and a large agenda of compromises in adaptation and mitigation. If we want to master these challenges, we need to make the land use management at the landscape scale a common focus of our efforts.
By Ana N. Acosta, Andrea V. Arabe, Ann-Cathrin Jöst, Carolle A. Eichmann, Gabriela H. Jauregui, Japhet N. Mwambusi, Natalia M. Duran, and Patrick M. Diaz